What’s the goal of route analytics in the WAN?

* Providing visibility, analysis and diagnosis of WAN issues

The last couple of newsletters discussed the fact that in large, complex networks it is quite common that when an application is either unavailable or is exhibiting degraded performance, the cause is logical, e.g., sub-optimal routing or intermittent routing instability. The newsletter also pointed out that the vast majority of IT organizations are not well equipped to resolve application delivery issues that are caused by logical factors.

According to Wikipedia, analytics is the branch of logic dealing with analysis and closely resembles statistical analysis and data mining. The term analytics gets used in many contexts, e.g., business analytics, Web analytics. The focus of this newsletter is on route analytics.

The goal of route analytics is to provide visibility, analysis and diagnosis of the issues that occur at the routing layer. A route analytics solution achieves this goal by providing an understanding of precisely how IP networks deliver application traffic. This requires continuous, real-time monitoring as well as the creation and maintenance of a map of networkwide routes and of all of the IP traffic flows that traverse these routes. This in turn means that a route analytics solution must be able to record every change in the traffic paths as controlled and notified by IP routing protocols.

By integrating the information about the network routes and the traffic that flows over those, a route analytics solution can provide information about the volume, application composition and class of service (CoS) of traffic on all routes and all individual links. This networkwide, routing and traffic intelligence serves as the basis for real-time monitoring of the network’s Layer 3 operations from the network’s point of view. This intelligence can also support the historical analysis of routing and traffic behavior that can be used for performing a root causes analysis and can support the modeling of routing and traffic changes and simulating post-change behavior.

Route analytics is one of the topics that will be discussed at Network World’s IT Roadmap conference that will be held in Boston on March 6. If you live in the area, hopefully you will attend the conference.

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